Cheshire Phoenix star Devan Bailey believes that the BBL play-offs proved a bridge too far for the club’s small roster, but praised his ‘fantastic’ team-mates.

The Nix lost out over two legs to the Leicester Riders at the weekend, with Bailey, 24, claiming it was a case of two games too many for the battle-weary troops.

Operating one of the smallest squads in the BBL, the Nix, under the stewardship of head coach John Lavery, have performed miracles this season, claiming a fifth-placed finish in the league and appearances in the  BBL Trophy semi-final and play-off quarter-final.

“The club has always operated on limited resources and it has been the case this time, but the guys have been fantastic,” said Great Britain international Bailey, a former Helsby High School pupil.

“We were disappointed as we didn’t fight as much as we should have and didn’t give the Riders enough of a game, but for such a small squad we have played a lot of games and I think it took its toll.

“Reggie (Middleton) has been hurting, I have been out injured and even before his injury Vic Moses hadn’t been at his fittest.

“We were all gutted to lose both games but looking back at the season as a whole, we can be proud of how we have finished, especially when you consider the poor start that we had.”

After losing eight out of their first 11 games in the BBL this season, many had written off the chances of the Nix making a fist of it and challenging for the play-offs, but the addition of players such as Moses and Dominique Coleman proved a shot in the arm for Lavery’s men as they went on to win nine of their next 11 league encounters.

Bailey, who was named MVP for the season by the Nix fans prior to the home game against the Riders on Friday, believes there are strong foundations for the Nix to challenge next season and indicated his desire to be a part of it.

“I’m going to sit down with the guys and see what we are going to do as a team, but I’d like to stay next season as this is a great team with great fans who love the club very much,” he said.

“There is a really positive feeling about the place and it’s nice to be a part of it.

“I need to be playing basketball and if I can do it here with these guys, that would be great. But I’m going to have to wait and see.

“But it’s been a good season that bodes well for the future.”